Doctors Without Borders Brings Interactive Exhibition on Global Refugee Crisis to Seattle

Thousands at South Lake Union Discovery Center expected to tour Forced From Home—a free, outdoor exhibit on the realities of displacement

SEATTLE, OCTOBER 4, 2017—The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) opens Forced From Home this week in Seattle. The interactive exhibit seeks to tell the individual stories of the more than 65 million displaced people worldwide, and to help visitors understand the humanitarian consequences of displacement. Forced From Home exhibitions has already toured Boulder and Salt Lake City in September, welcoming more than 6,000 visitors.

The outdoor, free exhibition will be in Seattle from October 2-8 at South Lake Union Discovery Center. Visitors gain a deeper understanding of people who’ve been forced to flee from their homes by participating in an hour-long tour led by an MSF aid worker. The aid worker guides who take the public through the exhibition have worked in refugee and internally displaced settings all over the world.

While delivering emergency medical care worldwide, MSF sees firsthand the horrific conditions that drive people to risk their lives for the chance of a safer future. Forced From Home gives visitors a sense of the challenges displaced people encounter. For example, they will learn what it’s like to be squeezed onto an overcrowded rubber raft lost at sea, or to not have enough water for drinking or washing. They will also be confronted with the near impossible choices people must make when fleeing at a moment’s notice.

“Our medical staff delivers emergency medical care all over the world,” said Jason Cone, MSF-USA executive director. “MSF is seeing displaced individuals and families at unprecedented numbers. We provide care throughout their dangerous journeys—on rescue boats, in refugee camps, and in health centers. Forced From Home is an opportunity to bring our patients’ stories to the U.S. public, to humanize the refugee crisis, and to challenge political leaders at all levels of government to dramatically increase assistance and protections for refugees and asylum seekers.”

Forced From Home is a key component of MSF’s efforts to advocate for concrete policy changes to meet the urgent needs of refugees and IDPs. MSF calls upon all world leaders to honor their commitments under existing international refugee and human rights conventions. Forced From Home discusses the harm caused when governments close borders, return people to places where they can face death or persecution, or leave them trapped in war zones and other situations of extreme danger.

Visitors are invited to navigate the 10,000-square-foot exhibition space and to consider the inconceivable challenges faced daily by refugees and IDPs. The exhibition is a multiyear, national advocacy initiative that is currently travelling throughout the Western U.S.

The immersive experience also incorporates virtual reality and 360-degree videos that take participants to Iraq, Lebanon, Mexico, Tanzania, and South Sudan—areas where large groups of displaced people currently reside.

“Only willful ignorance would overlook the contributions and positive impact refugees have in our city, not only from an economic point of view, but also from a cultural one,” said Lorena González, Seattle city councilmember (Position 9, citywide). “Each year, an estimated 3,000 new refugees are resettled in the Seattle/King County area; we will continue to stand hand in hand with these families as they navigate their way through a new city and a new life. Seattle will continue to affirm its commitment as a welcoming city.”

“I’ve met with people in refugee and internally displaced persons’ camps from South Sudan, to Lebanon, and Mexico,” said Cone. “They are mothers and fathers wanting the best possible future for their children. They are some of the bravest and most resilient individuals I have ever met. Through this exhibition, we want visitors to understand why so many risk it all, and decide that the open sea is safer than land. We want to close the distance—to show the public what it looks like, feels like and what it means, to be forced from home.”

Forced From Home will be in Seattle through Oct 8. Further information on the exhibition and related events can be found at For tour updates, follow @ForcedFromHome on Twitter or Instagram.

Upcoming tour dates and cities:

  • October 2-8: South Lake Union Discovery Center – Seattle, WA
  • October 16-22: Pioneer Courthouse Square – Portland, OR
  • October 30-November 5: Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA
  • November 13-19: Santa Monica Pier – Santa Monica, CA

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters, and exclusion from health care. MSF offers assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender, or political affiliation.